I became skilled at covering my tracks, filling in the blanks. Sometimes the blanks were never filled. At other times, I would recall places where I had been or things I had done as if from a dream, which made the playback of my father and other men abusing me seem I even less real, fantasies conjured up from my imagination, not my memory. Perhaps somebody else’s memory. I didn’t think of myself as having mental-health problems. You don’t at sixteen. I thought of myself as being special, highly strung, moody.
In the specific case of the use of the term false memory to describe errors in details in laboratory tasks (e.g., in word-learning tasks), the media and public are set up all too easily to interpret such research as relevant to false memories of abuse because the term is used in the public domain to refer to contested memories of abuse. Because the term false memory is inextricably tied in the public to a social movement that questions the veracity of memories for childhood sexual abuse, the use of the term in scientific research that evaluates memory errors for details (not whole events) must be evaluated in this light." From: What's in a Name for Memory Errors? Implications and Ethical Issues Arising From the Use of the Term False Memory for Errors in Memory for Details, Journal: Ethics & Behavior 14(3) pages 201-233, 2004
We propose that use of the term false memory to describe errors in memory for details directly contributes to removing the social context of abuse from research on memory for trauma. As the term false memories has increasingly been used to describe errors in details, the scientific weight of the term has increased. In turn, we see that the term false memories is treated as a construct supported by scientific fact, whereas other terms associated with questions about the veracity of abuse memories have been treated as suspect. For example, recovered memories often appears in quotations, whereas false memories does not (Campbell, 2003).The quotation marks suggest that one term is questioned, whereas the other is accepted as fact. Accepting false memories of abuse as fact reflects the subtle assimilation of the term into the cognitive literature, where the term is used increasingly to describe intrusions of semantically related words into lists of related words. The term, rooted in the controversy over the accuracy of abuse memories recalled during psychotherapy (Schacter, 1999), implies generalization of errors in details to memory for abuse—experienced largely by women and children (Campbell, 2003)." from: What's in a Name for Memory Errors? Implications and Ethical Issues Arising From the Use of the Term False Memory for Errors in Memory for Details, Journal: Ethics & Behavior
For many years there have been rumours of mind control experiments. in the United States. In the early 1970s, the first of the declassified information was obtained by author John Marks for his pioneering work, The Search For the Manchurian Candidate. Over time retired or disillusioned CIA agents and contract employees have broken the oath of secrecy to reveal small portions of their clandestine work. In addition, some research work subcontracted to university researchers has been found to have been underwritten and directed by the CIA. There were 'terminal experiments' in Canada's McGill University and less dramatic but equally wayward programmes at the University of California at Los Angeles, the University of Rochester, the University of Michigan and numerous other institutions. Many times the money went through foundations that were fronts or the CIA. In most instances, only the lead researcher was aware who his or her real benefactor was, though the individual was not always told the ultimate use for the information being gleaned. In 1991, when the United States finally signed the 1964 Helsinki Accords that forbids such practices, any of the programmes overseen by the intelligence community involving children were to come to an end. However, a source recently conveyed to us that such programmes continue today under the auspices of the CIA's Office of Research and Development. The children in the original experiments are now adults. Some have been able to go to college or technical schools, get jobs. get married, start families and become part of mainstream America. Some have never healed. The original men and women who devised the early experimental programmes are, at this point, usually retired or deceased. The laboratory assistants, often graduate and postdoctoral students, have gone on to other programmes, other research. Undoubtedly many of them never knew the breadth of the work of which they had been part. They also probably did not know of the controlled violence utilised in some tests and preparations. Many of the 'handlers' assigned to reinforce the separation of ego states have gone into other pursuits. But some have remained or have keen replaced. Some of the 'lab rats' whom they kept in in a climate of readiness, responding to the psychological triggers that would assure their continued involvement in whatever project the leaders desired, no longer have this constant reinforcement. Some of the minds have gradually stopped suppression of their past experiences. So it is with Cheryl, and now her sister Lynn.
It is necessary to make this point in answer to the `iatrogenic' theory that the unveiling of repressed memories in MPD sufferers, paranoids and schizophrenics can be created in analysis; a fabrication of the doctor—patient relationship. According to Dr Ross, this theory, a sort of psychiatric ping-pong 'has never been stated in print in a complete and clearly argued way'. My case endorses Dr Ross's assertions. My memories were coming back to me in fragments and flashbacks long before I began therapy. Indications of that abuse, ritual or otherwise, can be found in my medical records and in notebooks and poems dating back before Adele Armstrong and Jo Lewin entered my life. There have been a number of cases in recent years where the police have charged groups of people with subjecting children to so-called satanic or ritual abuse in paedophile rings. Few cases result in a conviction. But that is not proof that the abuse didn't take place, and the police must have been very certain of the evidence to have brought the cases to court in the first place. The abuse happens. I know it happens. Girls in psychiatric units don't always talk to the shrinks, but they need to talk and they talk to each other. As a child I had been taken to see Dr Bradshaw on countless occasions; it was in his surgery that Billy had first discovered Lego. As I was growing up, I also saw Dr Robinson, the marathon runner. Now that I was living back at home, he was again my GP. When Mother bravely told him I was undergoing treatment for MPD/DID as a result of childhood sexual abuse, he buried his head in hands and wept. (Alice refers to her constant infections as a child, which were never recognised as caused by sexual abuse)
Although the terminology implies scientific endorsement, false memory syndrome is not currently an accepted diagnostic label by the APA and is not included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th ed.; American Psychiatric Association, 1994). Seventeen researchers (Carstensen et al., 1993) noted that this syndrome is a "non-psychological term originated by a private foundation whose stated purpose is to support accused parents" (p.23). Those authors urged professionals to forgo use of this pseudoscientific terminology. Terminology implies acceptance of this pseudodiagnostic label may leave readers with the mistaken impression that false memory syndrome is a bona fide clinical disorder supported by concomitant empirical evidence.(85)... ... it may be easier to imagine women forming false memories given biases against women's mental and cognitive abilities (e.g., Coltrane & Adams, 1996). 86
from: The Portrayal of Child Sexual Assault in Introductory Psychology Textbooks - Elizabeth J. Letourneau, Tonya C. Lewis One of the central questions surrounding the debate on memories of CSA is how often false or repressed memories actually occur. The APA working group (Alpert et al., 1996) and other experts (e.g., Loftus, 1993a) noted that no reliable method can distinguish between accurate and inaccurate memories. Therefore, no one can determine the prevalence of false or repressed memories. Nevertheless, six texts (30%) implied that false memories occur frequently (see Table 1). Of these, three included the opinionated suggestion that a "witch hunt" may be occurring in which innocent parents are routinely accused of, and then severely punished for, CSA. Two texts suggested that false memories of CSA must occur because an entire support group (the FMSF) has been formed for falsely accused parents. These authors apparently failed to consider that some members of the FMSF may actually have sexually assaulted children but are motivated to appear innocent. (85)
Treating Abuse Today (Tat), 3(4), pp. 26-33 Freyd: I see what you're saying but people in psychology don't have a uniform agreement on this issue of the depth of -- I guess the term that was used at the conference was -- "robust repression." TAT: Well, Pamela, there's a whole lot of evidence that people dissociate traumatic things. What's interesting to me is how the concept of "dissociation" is side-stepped in favor of "repression." I don't think it's as much about repression as it is about traumatic amnesia and dissociation. That has been documented in a variety of trauma survivors. Army psychiatrists in the Second World War, for instance, documented that following battles, many soldiers had amnesia for the battles. Often, the memories wouldn't break through until much later when they were in psychotherapy. Freyd: But I think I mentioned Dr. Loren Pankratz. He is a psychologist who was studying veterans for post-traumatic stress in a Veterans Administration Hospital in Portland. They found some people who were admitted to Veteran's hospitals for postrraumatic stress in Vietnam who didn't serve in Vietnam. They found at least one patient who was being treated who wasn't even a veteran. Without external validation, we just can't know -- TAT: -- Well, we have external validation in some of our cases. Freyd: In this field you're going to find people who have all levels of belief, understanding, experience with the area of repression. As I said before it's not an area in which there's any kind of uniform agreement in the field. The full notion of repression has a meaning within a psychoanalytic framework and it's got a meaning to people in everyday use and everyday language. What there is evidence for is that any kind of memory is reconstructed and reinterpreted. It has not been shown to be anything else. Memories are reconstructed and reinterpreted from fragments. Some memories are true and some memories are confabulated and some are downright false. TAT: It is certainly possible for in offender to dissociate a memory. It's possible that some of the people who call you could have done or witnessed some of the things they've been accused of -- maybe in an alcoholic black-out or in a dissociative state -- and truly not remember. I think that's very possible. Freyd: I would say that virtually anything is possible. But when the stories include murdering babies and breeding babies and some of the rather bizarre things that come up, it's mighty puzzling. TAT: I've treated adults with dissociative disorders who were both victimized and victimizers. I've seen previously repressed memories of my clients' earlier sexual offenses coming back to them in therapy. You guys seem to be saying, be skeptical if the person claims to have forgotten previously, especially if it is about something horrible. Should we be equally skeptical if someone says "I'm remembering that I perpetrated and I didn't remember before. It's been repressed for years and now it's surfacing because of therapy." I ask you, should we have the same degree of skepticism for this type of delayed-memory that you have for the other kind? Freyd: Does that happen? TAT: Oh, yes. A lot.
Treating Abuse Today 3(4) pp. 26-33 Freyd: The term "multiple personality" itself assumes that there is "single personality" and there is evidence that no one ever displays a single personality. TAT: The issue here is the extent of dissociation and amnesia and the extent to which these fragmentary aspects of personality can take executive control and control function. Sure, you and I have different parts to our mind, there's no doubt about that, but I don't lose time to mine they can't come out in the middle of a lecture and start acting 7 years old. I'm very much in the camp that says that we all are multi-minds, but the difference between you and me and a multiple is pretty tangible. Freyd: Those are clearly interesting questions, but that area and the clinical aspects of dissociation and multiple personalities is beyond anything the Foundation is actively... TAT: That's a real problem. Let me tell you why that's a problem. Many of the people that have been alleged to have "false memory syndrome" have diagnosed dissociative disorders. It seems to me the fact that you don't talk about dissociative disorders is a little dishonest, since many people whose lives have been impacted by this movement are MPD or have a dissociative disorder. To say, "Well, we ONLY know about repression but not about dissociation or multiple personalities" seems irresponsible. Freyd: Be that as it may, some of the scientific issues with memory are clear. So if we can just stick with some things for a moment; one is that memories are reconstructed and reinterpreted no matter how long ago or recent. TAT: You weigh the recollected testimony of an alleged perpetrator more than the alleged victim's. You're saying, basically, if the parents deny it, that's another notch for disbelief. Freyd: If it's denied, certainly one would want to check things. It would have to be one of many factors that are weighed -- and that's the problem with these issues -- they are not black and white, they're very complicated issues.
Treating Abuse Today 3(4) pp. 26-33 TAT: I want to move back to an area that I'm not real comfortable asking you about, but I'm going to, because I think it's germane to this discussion. When we began our discussion [see "A Conversation with Pamela Freyd, Ph.D., Part 1", Treating Abuse Today, 3(3), P. 25-39] we spoke a bit about how your interest in this issue intersected your own family situation. You have admitted writing about it in your widely disseminated "Jane Doe" article. I think wave been able to cover legitimate ground in our discussion without talking about that, but I am going to return to it briefly because there lingers an important issue there. I want to know how you react to people who say that the Foundation is basically an outgrowth of an unresolved family matter in your own family and that some of the initial members of your Scientific Advisory Board have had dual professional relationships with you and your family, and are not simply scientifically attached to the Foundation and its founders. Freyd: People can say whatever they want to say. The fact of the matter is, day after day, people are calling to say that something very wrong has taken place. They're telling us that somebody they know and love very much, has acquired memories in some kind of situation, that they're sure are false, but that there has been no way to even try to resolve the issues -- now, it's 3,600 families. TAT: That's kind of side-stepping the question. My question -- Freyd: -- People can say whatever they want. But you know -- TAT: -- But, isn't it true that some of the people on your scientific advisory have a professional reputation that is to some extent now dependent upon some findings in your own family? Freyd: Oh, I don't think so. A professional reputation dependent upon findings in my family? TAT: In the sense that they may have been consulted professionally first about a matter in your own family. Is that not true? Freyd: What difference does that make? TAT: It would bring into question their objectivity. It would also bring into question the possibility of this being a folie à deux --